Where have Midlothian’s starlings gone?

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A record-breaking number of Scots took part in this year’s Big Garden Birdwatch in January.

More than 820 people in Midlothian spent an hour recording the wildlife in their gardens or local parks.

The most common garden visitor in the county was the house sparrow, with an average of 4.6 spotted at any one time.

Sadly, the annual survey has raised concerns for the starling, one of Scotland’s most recognisable garden birds. Over the past decade, sightings have declined by 17 per cent in Scotland, and in Midlothian, the figure has fallen by six per cent.

The top 10 species in Midlothian were – 1, house sparrow (average of 4.6 sightings); 2, chaffinch (four sightings); 3, blue tit (3.2); 4, starling (three); 5, blackbird (2.7); 6, woodpigeon (2.1); 7, great tit (1.7); 8, coal tit (1.4); 9, goldfinch (1.4); 10, robin (1.4).

Keith Morton, species policy officer at RSPB Scotland, said: “It’s great to see so many people stepping up for nature by taking part in the Big Garden Birdwatch. The results are a vital tool in flagging up any underlying problems.”